Aruba holds a special place in the hearts of visitors for many reasons. Our beautiful beaches. Our picture perfect sunsets. Our people, who are arguably the friendliest in all of the Caribbean. Another reason many people love Aruba is because of how at home they feel here. Aruba makes vacationing so convenient for visitors that sometimes they forget they are in another country.
Because of this, first-time visitors are often surprised in the difference in food costs between Aruba and their home, be it the United States, Europe or otherwise. These higher costs, however, are not profit driven. They are necessitated by the nature of the island. Aruba’s arid, desert-like climate does not allow for agricultural development. In fact, the island’s only native plants are cacti, sea grapes and aloe plants…not exactly the type of crops that can sustain the appetite of an entire island, much less one where tourism is the main industry. As a result, we must import everything from apples, to cement to toothpicks. Even our palm trees are imported!
If there is any place that thrives on importing, it’s Aruba. Not only do our products arrive from locations throughout the world, but so have our people. People of more than 83 nationalities have been immigrating here for generations and now live in harmony. Aruba’s first residents were the Caquetios Indians from the Arawak tribe who fled Venezuela around 1,000 A.D. They were followed by Spanish explorers who came ashore 500 years later and ultimately the Dutch, with whom we are most closely associated. Today, our population consists of a diverse mix of people from South America, Europe, the Far East and other Caribbean islands.
It is these people who support Aruba as a tourism destination and make it “One Happy Island.” Many of our people now make a living as part of the importing process. Although Bucuti is committed to upholding the highest level of environmental sustainability, using local foods and goods isn’t an option that we have available, aside from the Aruba Aloe products that can be found in our guestrooms. We must uphold certain standards of quality to maintain a top-notch experience for our guests which includes sourcing goods from the U.S.
Years ago, we explored the option of importing our goods and edibles from South America to cut down on costs and reduce our carbon footprint. However, we quickly learned that the quality of these items and the means by which they were processed were inferior in comparison to products from the states. One major issue was that the food didn’t agree with some people, so we made a commitment to only purchase American goods moving forward in order to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests.
Today, our produce and meat are sourced exclusively from the U.S. – vegetables from California, fruit from Georgia, beef from Texas, etc. We have worked with consultants to identify the freshest, highest quality products possible which are shipped or flown in daily or weekly, depending upon their shelf life. Shipping costs, along with import duties and residual costs such as labor, result in prices somewhat higher than what you might find back home.
So next time you’re in Aruba and the cost of food strikes you, remember that the higher prices are a fundamental part of helping you have a worry-free and enjoyable holiday.
Ewald K. Bieman